If her 5.58 million YouTube subscribers (and 2.5 million followers on Instagram) are anything to go by, Prajakta Koli has won the hearts of the nation with her unmistakable girl-next-door appeal, ultra-relatable content, and on-point sense of humour.
We caught up with content entrepreneur Prajakta Koli (@mostlysane) in the wings of her many shoots and got her to share insights on how she manages her earnings.
Where does creating content and money management converge for you?
Prajakta Koli: Every time one thinks of creating a branded video, there are three factors to consider — what the brand wants from me, ensuring that it fits seamlessly into my content and content sensibilities, and what is my audience getting from me; are they getting what they came to me for? When these three factors are aligned, that’s when I can call it a successful collaboration, when content creation and money management can converge.
When did you start looking at money management seriously?
Prajakta Koli: I started earning quite early in life, 15 or 16 when I started doing theatre. I did not earn much; it was on a per-show basis. I always earned my pocket money, so I never took money from my family. Even when I started as a YouTuber, I was not earning much, and it took a long, long time [to earn well].
The first time it hit me was when I had to start paying taxes. Till then, I was taking it very lightly, but the first time I had to sign a cheque for my taxes, my heart broke. I was like ‘My money, oh my god, it’s all going’, and I knew I had to do something about it.
What were some of the roadblocks you faced?
Prajakta Koli: One of the biggest roadblocks is that I did not learn anything about this in school or college. The fact was that I was earning and paying my taxes, but still had little knowledge about how things worked. If I had more knowledge, I feel like I would have done a better job. I remember the first time I sat down with my CA, and he was explaining things to me. I remember looking at him blankly. It was not a good thing for someone who earns and should be responsible for everything that they do with every rupee.
How did you develop your money management skills? What were some of the things you actively started doing?
PK: One of the first things I did actively was to start saving, even before thinking of investment options. Earlier, I used to spend it all. But today, the minute a paycheque comes in, I cut my savings out and then I plan where to spend. That is something that helped me break down and simplify this process of finance, saving, and investments.
I want to learn new things, so when there are new investment schemes, I like to know about them and see how to make it work for me. Since childhood, I’ve found it difficult to deal with numbers, so I need to put in that extra effort to understand concepts like percentage, maturity, interest, etc. Now and then, my sister and I discuss investment options.
Does someone help you with your investments, specifically mutual funds?
PK: My father and my sister Barkha help me with my finances as they have a better understanding of this field. I am blessed to have a family where we can sit down and mutually discuss these things. Honestly, I am also learning. But I also realise that I am 27, and I cannot be unaware of things.
Today, how do you decide where to invest?
PK: I take their guidance, and I want to know what they think about it as they know where to invest, much more than I do.
The pandemic hasn’t been kind on all of us. How did you manage?
PK: I feel very fortunate personally — the pandemic affected so many industries, but the content creation business was not as affected. Somehow, we found our ways of brilliantly working remotely and still staying afloat. Of course, a lot of verticals of content creation got affected badly, especially travel, but I feel grateful that work kept going on.
Three things you would tell creators in terms of money management?
PK: 1. If you are like me, then please educate yourself about personal finance. When you become a creator, you automatically become a whole business machine. If you are employed in a company, you know that you always have someone doing these things for you, but if you are self-employed, you become your HR, CA, etc. Meet people who are more financially aware or consult your family as I do.
2. Take every rupee that comes your way, very seriously. Don’t look at your income as a short-term gain; look at whatever money is coming in as something that will help you in the long-term. You may be earning money, but you need to ensure that you keep earning.
3. For new creators: Try not to spend all your money on things that you don’t need creation wise. You don’t need a super expensive camera, mic, softboxes, lights, etc. Find cost-efficient ways of creating content in the beginning at least, and later, you will need to invest in yourself to keep upping the game.
I will say this – I am all for art and creativity, but I also believe in sustenance and practicality. When you look at doing something with passion, also look at it as a way of earning money, sustaining life or to make sure that it gives you life. Keep the learning process alive.